Court Discusses Requirements for Pursuing Uninsured Motorist Claims in Tennessee

The law affords parties injured in car accidents the right to pursue claims against anyone that may be liable for their damages. Even if the injured party does not know the identity of the driver that caused the accident, any action to recover damages must be filed in the proper time and manner, to avoid waiving the right to recover. This was illustrated in a recent case ruled upon by the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, in which the plaintiff’s case was dismissed due to the failure to join an essential party and the failure to file the lawsuit within the time required by the statute of limitations. If you were injured in a Tennessee car accident with an unknown driver it is critical to engage a capable Tennessee car accident attorney who is proficient in pursuing uninsured motorist claims.

Facts Regarding the Accident

It is reported that the plaintiff was involved in a hit-and-run accident in November 2015. The plaintiff suffered significant injuries due to the accident and required extensive medical treatment. In July 2017, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, his automobile insurance carrier, seeking uninsured benefits under his policy. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the lawsuit did not name the other driver involved in the accident or issue a summons against the other driver, as required by the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Further, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitations for pursuing personal injury claims in Tennessee. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff subsequently appealed, arguing that the six-year statute of limitations for breach of contract actions applied when an insured sues his insurer for uninsured motorist benefits.

Pleading Requirements for Pursuing Uninsured Motorist Claims

On appeal, the court rejected the plaintiff’s argument and held that the one-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims governed the subject case. The court noted that the Tennessee code provides that a plaintiff who is injured in a hit-and-run accident with an unknown driver and subsequently files a lawsuit for uninsured motorist benefits must issue a John Doe warrant against the unknown driver in order to qualify for coverage under his or her policy.
The court stated that a suit against the unknown driver is essential for an insured to recover uninsured benefits following a hit-and-run accident, with service upon the insurance carrier. The court explained that while there is no requirement that the insurer must be served with the suit against the hit-and-run driver within one year, the claim against the hit-and-run driver must nonetheless be filed within the one-year statute of limitations. In the subject case, the plaintiff failed to file his initial complaint within the one-year statute of limitations and did not name John Doe as a defendant as required under the Tennessee code. Thus, the court found that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was properly dismissed.

Consult a Skilled Tennessee Car Accident Attorney About Your Case

If you were injured in a Tennessee car accident involving a hit and run driver it is in your best interest to consult a skilled Tennessee car accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss whether you may be able to pursue compensation. Attorney Eric Beasley is a skilled Tennessee car accident attorney who will work tirelessly to help you seek a favorable legal result under the unique facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Beasley at 615-859-2223 or through the online form to schedule a conference to discuss your case.